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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

THE    DANGERS    OF    HISTORY

so long before. For historical knowledge is valuable
only while it is, so to speak, liquid—it is worse than
lumber if it freezes and hardens in the mind. We may
say, then, that it is better for men to forget what they
have actually learned of Louis XIV and cling rathef to
the experience they gained in the.study of history and
in historical exercises* History is more useful when
transmuted into a deeper wisdom that melts into the
rest of experience and is incorporated in the fabric of the
ipind itself.

The dangers of history are liable to become much
greater if we imagine that the study of this subject
qualifies us to be politicians or provides us with patterns
which we can immediately transpose into the context of
contemporary politics, It is not even clear that English
people are wise in teaching a knowledge of Tudor
government if their ultimate objective is to show^young
people how their country is governed in the twentieth
century. I once read a detective story written with the
intention of showing precisely the movements and
operations that take place at Scotland Yard after a
murder has been reported. If our object is to show
future voters how the wheels of government work, some
such method applied to the Cabinet or any other part
of the constitutional system would seem to me to be
more appropriate than the study of history, as the
Schools Section of the B.B.C have apparently discovered.

The argument that history qualifies men for the
practice of politics is one which had a certain relevance
and validity when it was used by the aristocrats who
ruled England in the eighteenth century; but they were

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